Could Alexandre be so advanced that we have headed into the terrible two’s before we are even 18 months old? I don’t recall the other kids being quite so difficult or demanding, and, naturally… I am inclined to consider the one big parenting difference between Alex and the “big kids:” his bilingual upbringing.
While 18 months seemed to have been a landmark age in communication in my previous experiences, Alex prefers to communicate in grunts, groans, or worse – screams and temper tantrums. Some moms are quick to console me with the old adage of the youngest not needing to learn how to speak since the older children will interpret his needs for him. Yet, what we have found is that the others are quickly picking up the language we had hoped Alex would be using by now. Everyone has reverted to “à tes souhaits” after a sneeze and everything from “bonjour” to “bonne nuit” has become second nature around the house. And while Alex can play a mean game of peek-a-boo à la française, getting him to even mimic the inflection or tone of “s’il te plaît” or “merci” is an all-out war; a war he usually wins by someone in the family handing him whatever it is he has decided he needs while we look frantically for the source of the deafening tantrum.
I have maintained OPOL (One Parent One Language) consistently since his birth, however, our moments together one-on-one have waned considerably with the return to school and work. How long is too long to determine if we have a case of terrible twos, or a real speech disorder?